Happy New Year to all ELN readers. This is the year when Scots decide if they wish to live in a separate independent Scotland, or a Scotland which is part of the United Kingdom with its own devolved parliament.
Late last year the SNP Scottish Government published its “White Paper” on independence. It had several hundred pages of “Questions and Answers”. Unfortunately these were the likes of “What will Scotland be called?” (Answer – “Scotland”), and none of the important questions about why Scotland would be better off were answered at all.
The SNP want to keep the British Pound, the British Queen, British TV programmes, the British energy market, and a British banking system. They claim that we would simply carry on as members of the EU, and of NATO and that the rest of the United Kingdom would happily pay for Scottish renewable energy, build naval ships in Scottish yards and bail out Scottish banks if they failed.
Independent experts have rubbished these claims, but even if they were true this is a strange kind of independence, with no control at all over our economy including things like mortgage rates. The truth is that the way to keep all these things, and the benefits the White Paper admits we need, is to remain part of the United Kingdom.
The biggest promise in the White Paper is an increase in childcare availability. Yet that is already devolved and the Scottish government already control childcare provision! It really is a cheek to tell Scottish families that the government will not extend childcare unless they vote the way the SNP want in the referendum.
Constituents have complained to me about the hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money being spent on producing and promoting this document. That has been raised many times in Parliament, but the SNP Government’s view is that they won an election in 2011 and so they are entitled to spend as much public money as they wish on their independence project. My view is that they would be better spending that money on things like childcare and education right now.